A new study of the online gambling market in Pennsylvania finds that participation grew by 5% last year to 16%. It marked the first annual participation increase in the three years of the comprehensive review.

Pennsylvania online gambling participation
A study from Penn State University concludes that more players gambled online last year via online casino apps like Parx than they did in 2022. Roughly 16% of the population in Pennsylvania is participating in a form of online gambling. (Image: Parx Casino)

The report, The Pennsylvania Interactive Gaming Assessment: Online Gambling Report 2023, comes from Penn State University. The state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) commissioned the review, and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) provided funding for its completion.

Online gambling participation includes internet slot machines and interactive table games, online sportsbooks, and iLottery. Gross revenue from those online gambling offerings totaled more than $2.1 billion last year, a nearly 27% year-over-year increase. Online slots and table games represented the bulk of the revenue at more than $1.7 billion.

The report highlights the state’s online gaming successes while considering its possible negative impacts on players and society. While the probe concluded that online gaming in the commonwealth continues to increase its tax benefit to the state, there are growing concerns that the financial gain might be coming at a cost to individuals, families, and communities.

Concerning Data

Penn State pollsters surveyed over 1,800 individuals from across the commonwealth to gauge their interest and participation in both online and offline gambling. The tally found that among the 21% who reported gambling in some format online, approximately half reported problems keeping their play in check.

The report cited difficulties in limiting the duration of one’s online play and sticking to a budget.

Calls to 1-800-GAMBLER referencing challenges with online play skyrocketed last year, with such outreach representing “at least” 34% of the call volume. In 2020, calls specifically mentioning online gambling represented just 2% of the helpline call volume.

Being aware of the current online gambling trends in Pennsylvania will help DDAP in its mission to assess and address how gambling behaviors impact compulsive and problem gambling within the commonwealth,” said DDAP Secretary Latika Davis-Jones. “It will also help us to spread awareness that treatment and resources, like the 1-800-GAMBLER helpline, are there when someone needs help.”

Online-exclusive gamblers reported average monthly losses of $617, while players who only gamble in person reported monthly losses of $103. Dual-mode gamblers, or those who play both online and in-person, reported the largest average monthly loss at $708.

Online players gamble more often than retail players by a two-to-one margin. And many of those online gamblers likely don’t have a large bankroll, as the study concluded that nearly 40% of the online-exclusive demographic had an annual household income of less than $50K.

iGaming Poaching Legacy Play

The Penn State study found that iGaming is presumably taking business from legacy outlets — brick-and-mortar casinos and lottery retailers. While online gambling participation grew 5% last year, offline gambling participation declined by the same percentage from 67.5% to 62.5%.

The Interactive Gaming Assessment said since problematic gaming behaviors are most escalating among online players, the industry and regulators should increase their messaging about responsible play and available resources where those consumers are spending most of their time — online.

“Since the evidence indicates that problematic gambling behaviors are seemingly highest among those who gamble online — whether exclusively or also offline — and among younger individuals, the researchers recommend that information regarding responsible gambling, prevention, or treatment availability should be provided through multiple digital media formats such as social media and streaming services,” the study concluded.   

The post Pennsylvania iGaming Participation Grows, but So Do Responsible Play Challenges appeared first on Casino.org.

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